Family, church central to George N. DiJulio Sr.
George N. DiJulio Sr. operated Seattle-area restaurants, including the Hungry Turtle, Plaid Piper and Casa Villa.
Seattle Times staff reporter
George N. DiJulio Sr. taught his seven children a work ethic by bringing them to his popular Seattle restaurants to wash dishes, greet customers, shampoo carpets and do other chores.
But he didn’t encourage them to follow his footsteps into the restaurant business.
“He thought that took too much time away from family,” said his son Matt DiJulio.
When Mr. DiJulio missed a son’s baseball game, he showed up late with 20 hamburgers, fries and shakes for the team.
Mr. DiJulio, co-owner and operator of the Plaid Piper, Casa Villa, Hungry Turtle and other Seattle-area restaurants that operated between the 1950s and 1980s, died at his Mercer Island home Wednesday. He was 93.
Throughout his life, Mr. DiJulio remained devoted to church and family, values he learned growing up in the Rainier Valley, an area dominated at the time by large, Catholic, Italian-American families.
“My dad was the youngest of seven boys and two girls They all went out and had six or seven kids,” building an extended family of 250, said son George DiJulio Jr.
Born in 1919 to Black Diamond coal miner John DiJulio and his wife, Angelina, he grew up in Seattle, where he attended Our Lady of Mount Virgin Catholic Church and School, Franklin High School and the University of Washington.
In 1948 he married Mary Elizabeth Wilson, better known as Marybeth.
After the growing family moved to Mercer Island, it joined St. Monica Catholic Church, where Mr. DiJulio raised money for the parish school’s baseball team and organized the first annual church auction.
When The Bon Marché, now Macy’s, decided it could no longer store and display its life-size nativity scene, Mr. DiJulio and executive George Smith of The Bon bought the display and donated it to St. Monica Catholic Church, where it has been shown every Christmas for nearly 50 years.
Mr. DiJulio founded the Seattle Jesuit Club, which holds an annual dinner to honor and financially support Jesuits employed by several Seattle-area schools. He played Santa Claus with the Seafair Pirates on visits to hospitals and other venues.
Hired as the first manager of the Turf Club at Longacres Racetrack in Renton, Mr. DiJulio co-founded the four-store Gil’s Hamburgers, which sold 19-cent burgers in the 1950s.
He later co-owned the Plaid Piper, Casa Villa and Hungry Turtle restaurants in Seattle, and the Turtle Too in Auburn.
The Hungry Turtle on Lake Union was a popular businessmen’s lunch spot, and on Huskies home football-game days offered an alternative to parking-lot tailgate parties. The restaurant served fans food and drink, shuttled them to the game by bus or boat, and then back for more partying.
Mr. DiJulio is survived by his wife, Marybeth DiJulio; sons George Jr., of Redmond, and Chris DiJulio, of Kirkland; daughters Betsy Biehn and Lisa Given and sons Pat DiJulio and Doug DiJulio, of Mercer Island, and son Matt DiJulio, of Newcastle. He is also survived by 24 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be held 11 a.m. Feb. 25 at St. Monica Catholic Church on Mercer Island. The family suggests remembrances to Our Lady of Mount Virgin Catholic Church, St. Monica Catholic Church or the charity of your choice.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org